Ashes to ashes

It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. We receive ashes on our foreheads in the sign of the cross, representing our repentance, our willingness to take stock of our spiritual life and begin again.

It’s time again for the three main practices of Lent:

Prayer –  We take time to reflect on what we can do for others, how we can bring more light to the world, and where we have fallen short. It’s a great way to reconnect with God and recommit ourselves to the path we want to follow.

Fasting – We give up things that keep us from living the life we want to be living. I know, for instance, that I am a slave to my phone, whether I spend my time reading late at night or playing mindless games or scrolling through endless feeds. Giving up those (wasted) hours will free me to do good in the world, in my own home and in the community.

Almsgiving – Lent helps us focus on what we can do for others. Can I give up my Starbucks runs or lunches out and give the money I save to people who really need it? The money I spend on my luxuries could go towards someone else’s necessities. It’s the right thing to do.

There is such a feeling of excitement to Lent! I appreciate having the chance to make some adjustments in my life. I have sooo far to go to be the person I want to be, but I’m going to take this opportunity to make a start.

40 days, 40 spaces

A very happy Ash Wednesday to you all!

That might seem a bit contradictory. Ash Wednesday, after all, is a day of repentance, a day to remember that “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The general vibe is not one of good cheer.

But I am hopeful. I am going into Lent with a feeling of anticipation, not deprivation. I am excited about getting a chance to reboot myself, to look deeply into my life and see where I stand with God, with myself, and with my neighbor.

Father Michael at our parish mentioned tonight that Lent is “an inside job,” a chance to do some of the interior work that we usually try to distract ourselves from doing. (I am certainly a master at distracting myself!)

I want to be less distracted from what is really important to me. It’s time to break out the three tools of Lent:

  • Prayer – to really listen to what God is trying to tell me about life and how to live it;
  • Fasting – to break free from those distractions by giving them a rest for a while and trying out some new, healthier habits; and
  • Almsgiving – to look at the ways that I treat myself to luxuries while those around me are going without necessities, and to try to share some of my abundance with others.

The 40 spaces I mention in the title? I am going to follow along with the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, in my own little way. I’m going to try to completely clear a space in my home each day and keep it clear for all of Lent. We shall see how I do! For today, I have cleared off the bench in my entry hall. It looks beautiful in its emptiness.

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Ash Wednesday (posted a little late)

Here’s the first of my Blue Screened Posts, from Feb 22.

Lent votives
Photo by jamiesrabbits

It is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

I did not start off on the right foot.  I got ready early to leave for Mass but got frustrated with my family for not being ready to go on time. I got stuck in traffic and threw a bit of a fit. We didn’t make it halfway to church before it was apparent that we would miss most of Mass by the time we got there. I threw a fit about that, pulled the car over, jumped out to catch a fast-approaching bus, and made  a snarky remark about how I would be going to Mass at lunch, downtown. I came into work grumpy and stayed grumpy for quite a while.

Ugh. I am not proud of myself, to say the least. You may not be surprised to hear that I have decided to give up “getting upset with my family” for Lent. I set a very poor example for them this morning. (I’m screaming mad because we are late for a chance to think and pray about our sinful nature! What a good object lesson!) I started thinking about all the upcoming stress of the trip and about how I tend to take my stress out on David and Q. This would not be a good way to start our family adventure!

Now… will I be able to do it? Will I just transfer my temper to other people? I hope not… that reminds me too much of the year I gave up “shopping for anything but food” for Lent and gained more than 20 pounds. Let us pray that I can become somewhat conscious of my emotions before they start boiling over. Wish me luck.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! that the downtown parish is only three blocks from my office. It’s very handy on Holy Days.
  • I’m lighter! We had an amazing family Europe list discussion session when we all got home tonight. We know that Quinland always works better from a list, but David does, too. I just need to stop adding things to the list.